Photoblog Three Months 2000

7-29-2000

The last month and a half disappeared in a blur. I fell into the digital print world. I had been talking about the inkjet stuff with a friend of mine for the last few months, but when I saw with my own two eyes what was possible, at least in color, I thought it was worth investigating. Luminos had just come out with monochrome inks for the Epson 1160, so I figured for a few hundred bucks I would take the plunge. The printer was about $400. I already had a fairly okay negative scanner which I had used to put the images on the site. My initial thought was to try and make some small postcards, perhaps a brochure. And I have to admit, that the initial results were so amazing, that I got hooked.

Began experimenting with various inkjet papers, and within a day or two I had several very good prints.

I had been very sceptical about all this. Last year I went to the Javits center photography exhibit and saw some black and white digital stuff, but didn’t think that it could compare with chemical printing. Now all of a sudden, with the right inks and the right scanner and printer, it was here. What a relief not to have to work in the dark in this small studio apartment. No more fixer fumes. No more setup and cleanup. All the headaches of chemical printing gone. At least in the smaller sizes.

I showed a bunch of my work to friends, and to production people where I work part-time, and the reactions were the same as mine. This stuff had a lot of potential. I created a bunch of postcards and gave them out to people wherever I went. Gave some to my father to give out to his friends. And simply carried a bunch of them around with me so that I could show samples of my work around.

Then of course I had to change the site so that I could offer these digital prints, which I just finished the other day. And while all this was going on, I was still shooting, working part-time, and selling chemical prints. I thought myself very successful, being able to keep track of all this, until my sister tried to call me the other day and got no answer. Turns out I had forgotten to pay the phone bill. And then a guy came by and slipped a notice under my door about the rent being late. Seems I had forgotten to pay the rent. Well, okay. Maybe I did let a few minor things slip by…. And oh yeah, I was going to plan a vacation. Guess that slipped by also.

7-31-00

Have slowly been removing things from the site that weren’t getting any hits. The latest thing to go was hi-res images. I went through a lot of trouble to upload larger images, but checking the logs showed that they were getting about 20 hits or so per week. Not worth the trouble. I guess that I’ll keep audience favorites around a little longer, but I think the novelty has worn off, and very few people take the trouble to actually vote. What has gotten a lot of hits are the small articles about the Contax G2, and shooting on the subway. Maybe I’ll figure out something else to write about that might be of general interest.

9 – 7 – 00

i think i got kind of burnt out from the whole push to be a success at photography and i’m going through a slow down period. (although i’m still shooting when i get a chance). i’m about to read a book called, ‘Blood Meridian’ by Cormac McCarthy, which I saw a big fat guy talking about on t.v. The big fat guy was from the Bronx, and had apparantly done nothing but read as many books as he could for the last 70 years. He had taught literature etc. at Yale for many years and was talking about how wonderful reading was. But he seemed quite mad to me, and fairly unhappy.

Nevertheless, he said he had been teaching this novel in his classes for several years, and was convinced that it was one of the few ‘works of genius’ around today. its supposed to be very gory though.

traffic to the daveBeckerman.com site continues to increase. but i’m coming to the realization that people are using it more like a museum than a store. i think that i will do better if i put my images on tee-shirts and sell them. in other words, you can view the images on the web and enjoy them, and get a lot of feeling from them. why do you need to buy them and go through the trouble of having them framed and put in the house. but shoes, or tee-shirts, or hats, or jewelry are another story. you don’t get the functionality until you order it. which takes me back again to the postcard, and greeting card thing. because here is a physical thing that you need to get, in order to make use of it and get the full benefit.

i’m now at a point where i’m getting about 15,000 page views per week. that’s a lot of pictures served up. and registrations are now up to about 15 per day. quite a bit compared to when i first started out. but so far, offering more affordable inkjet prints has not boosted sales one bit. in fact, sales have dropped off when i started offering them. so, the good news is, more people are browsing the site, and viewing more pictures; the bad news is that sales are really minimal. still, as i said to a friend the other day — its very gratifying to simply have people stop by and browse. and if that’s all its going to be, well so be it.

i really wonder how the larger sites like Corbis and art.com are doing. they have obviously put millions into selling art on the web.

on the good side, several stock companies have seen my work and invited me to submit images to them. so maybe that will help. we’ll see. i can tell you that something like that where the agency takes care of the sale and the legalities would definitely be easier than trying to sell directly to the public.

10-08-2000

for the last few months, i’ve been wondering where to take my next vacation. i decided on returning to Sedona,AZ. i had been there two years ago with the view camera, and came back with a few decent pictures (Birches, Prairie) but considering that I was there for two weeks, and shot about 100 plates, i wasn’t very successful. so, this time i’ll go back sans view camera, with my G2 and see how i do. i was thinking about this when i realized that it would be nice to have a slightly larger camera bag. camera bags for me are like shoes for Emelda Marcos. i can’t have too many camera bags. the house is filling with them. nonetheless, compared to the price of camera equipment, this is a relatively inexpensive flaw.

so, i went to my favorite camera store in New York. i had my G2 and a couple of lenses with me, in my smaller bag, and looked carefully at a few bags. i found one that was on display, cabled to the shelf, and then i had my bright idea. lets take the equipment out of my bag, and put it into the new bag to see how it all fits. i put my G2, in the bag, and then put the 21mm in a pocket of the bag, and two other lenses into the body of the bag…. not bad. i liked the bag. i took my lenses back and put them into my own bag, and went to the counter and order the new bag, bought it and went home.

that was Friday at 1pm. when i got home, i looked at my new bag and decided to transfer my lenses and camera to the new bag and see how it all fit. hmmm. something was missing. where was my 21mm? arghhhh!!! it struck me like a thunderbolt, i had left it in the pocket of the display bag in store. damn. that was the most expensive lens i had ($1300). there was a $1300 lens sitting in the bag in the store. anyone could just pick it up, throw it in their pocket, and walk out. and…

this was friday, and the start of a Jewish holiday. the store was going to be closed until Monday at 9am.

i spent the next two days trying not think of my poor $1300 lens. i asked advise. some people told me to call the store and leave a message. others said, do nothing.

i thought that if i left a message, the sweeper might pick it up, and that would be the end of it.

Photo store opened up at 9am on Monday. I was there, sitting outside the store on a bench, at about 8 am. For about 58 minutes, I held an internal dialogue that went something like this:

– You’ve got your health. This lens is a material thing. Its meaningless.

– Yeah, but it cost $1300. That’s about the most expensive lens I’ve got.

– Well, this is a test. What if its not there? What’s the use of worrying. Nothing much you can do. And if it is there, well, all this worrying was for naught.

– Gee, what time is it anyway? I look at watch. Five minutes has passed.

– Think of something else. Think of how amazing it is that you’ve even owned a lens like that… no, something else.

It goes on like this for 59 minutes, until I have convinced myself that whatever happens, its all for the best.

And then I see the man coming to open the door to let me in. Man, he’s taking a long time. And all my rationalizations, all my meditations, zoom out through my ears, and my brain can only think of one thing:

— ‘Please be there. Please be there. Oh please…’ I walk through the store, passed the ‘greeter’, eyes waiting to see the bag. I know the bag will be there because its just for display, and is strapped to the counter with a wire.

Yep, there it is. And there’s the pocket that I think I left the lens. And open the cover to peek inside the pocket… There is the little lens, peeking out at me, as if to say, — ‘You see, I was here all the time. Nothing to worry about after all, was there” And I pick it up, and place it in my own photo bag. No one notices anything. Do they have surveillance cameras in a place like this? Probably, but not until a few people are in the store. So, I make my way out of the store, and that’s that.

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Dave

My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a photographer and programmer working in New York City.